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Fractures in the Fracking Debate

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frackingMore on fracking : a new web video series designed to provoke discussion and disrupt conventional thinking on a wide variety of contemporary issues released its second episode — about the use of hydraulic fracturing – fracking – and its impacts on economic growth and environmental sustainability.

The “Summits on Tenth” series is a joint project of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, a social change philanthropy and AlterNet, an online source of independent news and commentary.

The Striking Challenge of Fracking: Who Does it Benefit and Who Gets Hurt?” features conversation with two energy and environmental leaders, Kate Sinding, Senior Attorney and Deputy Director at the Natural Resource Defense Council’s New York Urban Program, and Michael Shellenberger, President of The Breakthrough Institute. The conversation is moderated by Simon Greer, CEO of the Nathan Cummings Foundation. For the first time, the conversation continues online with a “room for debate” where leading experts at the center of the fracking debate are posting responses to the video.

The two experts shared insights gleaned from years of research and experience in the field, including the activist awakening one of them felt for cleaner energy sources after experiencing firsthand the deadly effects of outdated fuel sources like wood-burning. They tackled issues of transitioning from coal to natural gas, expansion of fracking within the United States and the resulting impact it may have on air and water contamination and property values in affected regions. They encouraged moving toward an environmentally sustainable future while diverging in their opinions on the best practices to take in order to get there.

When asked how she views the expansion of fracking in and around residential communities throughout the United States, Sinding said, “There are folks who are being affected by water contamination and air contamination and whose property values have been affected. There are communities that are dealing with very serious community impacts associated with the rush of a new fossil fuel community coming into town. I think, in general, we’ve seen a glossing over of these impacts.”

During a discussion about what long-term advantages and disadvantages may come of expanded fracking in the United States and abroad, Shellenberger responded, “We’re dealing with an energy transition away from coal and toward natural gas that’s basically positive and that we should not be putting the brakes on. It’s been good for the environment and good for workers and … it’s been mostly incremental and mostly to the benefit of health, life expectancy and quality of life.”

Hmmm. I wonder if he is aware of fracking’s impact on property values.

The latest Summits on Tenth is available in two versions: a shorter highlight video and the full conversation, both at www.summitsontenth.com.

Image: Fracking demonstration by Brite Light photos via Flickr

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Written by William DiBenedetto

9 October, 2013 at 4:00 am

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